It’s not often that a blog post opens with a caveat, but this one does: Copenhagen is not cheap. There are no Wetherspoon’s serving two quid pints. If you want to go full throttle and drink everything in sight in this European beer Mecca, you will have to sell some body parts to fund it.
However, it is possible to have an unbelievably good and beer-filled time in this amazing city without completely bankrupting yourself, especially if you follow these first two steps:
1) Fly with Norwegian Airlines.
Who? The Scandinavian Ryanair, that’s who. Except, instead of the soul-sapping experience you get from Ireland’s own, Norwegian does budget flying with Scandinavian coolness and a focus on great service. Free Wifi on board during the flight. Apologetic text message when flight was delayed for 15 minutes. 20kg luggage limits (more space to bring beer home with you). And, best of all, a Dublin-Copenhagen return cost me just over €80. Which is half the price quoted by Aer Lingus and a third of the price of the equivalent SAS flight. Obviously, this equals more cash for beer. Flights – tick.
2) Don’t stay in a bloody hotel.
Scandinavian hotel prices can make your lungs literally jump out of your chest. A tasty little one star for a hundred quid a night? Ooh, thanks very much. Nope, AirBnB is where it’s at. I’m probably preaching to the converted here, as I’m well behind the times and last week was the first time I used this incredible resource. Five nights in a wonderful fully kitted-out flat (including a great balcony) right beside the Copenhagen Lakes (see above pic) split between two people cost me just over €150 for five nights. Again, the beermoney-ometer is going KERCHING.
So, with all that cash you’ve saved following the above two steps, let’s get down to business.
There can be no doubt that Mikkeller is at the heart of the Copenhagen (and the world’s) good beer scene, and the gypsy brewer’s two bars in the city are nothing short of incredible. Both are minimalist and ‘Scandy’ in design/vibe and have utterly jaw-dropping tap lists.
The original Mikkeller Bar on Viktoriagade (in the city’s slightly seedy Vesterbro district) is tiny, yet packs in a twenty-strong tap line-up that has pure well-selected quality as its focus:
I only nipped in briefly when I was down in that part of the city en route to the brilliant beer shop Ølbutikken (round the corner on Istedgade) but managed to fit in a glass of unbelievably fresh Super Conductor Double IPA by New Zealand’s 8 Wired and the fantastic Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel – an imperial oatmeal stout brewed with one of the world’s most expensive coffees (ca phe chon) which is made from the droppings of Vietnamese civets. Honestly, I’m not shitting you (taxi!).
Where I spent most of my time, however, was the other Mikkeller bar, which was only ten minutes away from where I was staying in the Nørrebro area. Mikkeller & Friends is quite frankly the best bar I’ve ever been to. It has double the amount of beer on tap (yes, forty) and is equally as minimalist and beautiful as its older, littler brother.
The beer here was amazing. I had everything from a chardonnay-barrel-aged-wild-ale-with-added-mango-juice and an oak-aged Trappist Quadrupel to Mikkeller’s own unblended draught lambic (and a shedload of top notch IPAs in between). The bottle shop connected to the bar was also sublime – I nearly passed out when I saw the selection (and then again when I saw some of the prices) – the highest quality array of world beer I’ve ever come across. Luckily, a small and exclusive shipment Minneapolis’ Surly Brewing Co beers arrived while I was there, so they made up the bulk of my suitcase stash:
There’s life beyond Mikkeller though, with plenty of top notch Copenhagen beer bars which predate Mikkeller’s premises by a good while. Take Nørrebro’s Ølbaren, for example. It’s a tiny little joint with an impeccable selection of 14 constantly-rotating brews. The prices weren’t too bad in here either: I managed to get a very generous 25cl pour (at least 30cl!) of the Mikkeller/Three Floyds collaboration barley wine Boogoop (10.4% ABV) for the equivalent of a fiver. Not bad at all. There’s a whole host of other class drinking places with an equal focus on quality that I just don’t have the energy to spout about (Fermentoren and Ørsted Ølbar deserve mentions for sure). Plus, there were numerous first class brews from brilliant Danish brewers such as Amager, Stronzo, and Beer Here that all deserve a serious amount of kudos.
So there you go, a whistle-stop account of my Copenhagen trip. What a cracking city it is: it’s a foodie’s paradise. Jesus, I didn’t even mention the food, did I? Ah well, trust me IT WAS FECKING AMAZING.
True, it’s pricey enough once you’re there, but my God is it worth it. Plus, the savings you can make on flights and accommodation with Norwegian Airlines and AirBnB can actually make it a relatively affordable short break overall. Relatively. Ish. Now excuse me while I get back to my stash of Tesco value beans…